03/29/08 7:10 PM ET
Patterson miffed by demotion
Righty reliever's flawless spring ends with ticket to Triple-A
By Charlie Nobles / Special to MLB.com
"I thought I had made it," Patterson said. "I thought I was there. I don't think I slept an hour last night, to tell you the truth."
As Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman called players into Girardi's office one by one and gave them the bad news, Patterson took it as a good sign that he was the last one asked to visit.
"I thought it was a good thing," Patterson said. "When I first knew is when I saw the looks on their faces. They weren't smiling."
Patterson became one of five pitchers demoted, bringing the Yankees to their Opening Day roster of 25.
On another side of the Yankees' clubhouse on Saturday, relievers Brian Bruney and Ross Ohlendorf were trying not to act too giddy about surviving the elimination process.
"I've said from Day 1 that I didn't really care," Bruney said. "That might sound bad and it's not that I don't care, but I'm not going to worry about it. I did everything I possibly could to make it, so I had no regrets either way. I used to worry about what I was doing and what other people were doing. Now, I just focus on pitching."
Bruney said he lost between 20-25 pounds in the offseason, worked on his pitching mechanics and went out of his way to live healthily.
"I ate right, lived right, slept right -- everything," he said. "I drank nothing but water for the last four months. I just wanted to give myself every chance to succeed."
Bruney had a 2.00 ERA this spring, striking out 12 batters in nine innings.
As for Ohlendorf, who made the Yankees' postseason roster last season, this situation was different because he had such a long time to ponder his fate. Plus, the Yankees had plenty of options.
"I tried not to think about it much," Ohlendorf said. "They could have gone a lot of different ways."
Ohlendorf is just thankful now that the Yankees converted him from a starter to a reliever at the end of July last season. He said he didn't like the idea initially, but a month later, he felt better about it.
Asked if the move was a turning point in his career, Ohlendorf said softly, "I think so. At this point, it's worked out."
Meanwhile, Patterson was getting ready to head to the Minor Leagues, still longing for the day when he can play in New York. He was asked what rationale the Yankees used in justifying his demotion.
"I didn't get one," he said. "It's probably better that I didn't, because I was a little bit heated. But I didn't. They know I can do the job. I'll be up soon enough."
A free agent this past offseason, Patterson said he only had eyes for the Yankees.
"There's no chance I was going anywhere else," he said. "I want to be a Yankee."
The right-hander said he developed the mental toughness to deal with successful hitters during the offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League, facing players such as Miguel Cabrera and Jose Castro.
"I knew then that I'd be able to do OK against Major League hitters," Patterson said.
Only now, he has to wait a while longer.
Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.